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Grand Union Canal Junction at the foot of Foxton Locks
Grand Union Canal Junction at the foot of Foxton Locks

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Route No. 609 - Wednesday 24 February 2016
Circuit of Foxton Locks (10 rise) &
Inclined Plane Boat Lift, Grand Union Canal
3km - Leicester . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 223 Northampton & Market Harborough


Path from the car park to the canal next to Gumley Road
Path from the car park to the canal next to Gumley Road


Footbridge over the canal next to Gumley Road

From the car park entrance we turned left to follow a footpath through the trees beside the road for about 150m to the canal tow path. At the tow path we turned right and followed the tow path under the road bridge. Then we turned left to cross the canal on a footbridge beside the road bridge. Once across the canal we followed the tow path heading towards the locks.

My wife & I have just had a short break at a hotel in Hinkley near Leicester. We had an appointment in Leeds on Monday evening and then drove down the motorway to our hotel. We were very lucky with the weather and both yesterday (Tuesday) and today were fine bright frosty winter's days. This morning we drove to Foxton Locks on the Grand Union Canal near Market Harborough and parked in the car park at map ref. SP 691 891 off Gumley Road just east of the canal.

Following the tow path under Gumley Road
Following the tow path under Gumley Road

Heading for Foxton Locks along the tow path
Heading for Foxton Locks along the tow path

Swan hoping for some bread
Swan hoping for some bread - he was disappointed

Sculpture of a tow-horse and boy working along the tow path
Sculpture of a tow-horse and boy working along the tow path

The lock keeper was very friendly and chatted to us in the winter sunshine for a while.

After about 200m we came to the lock keeper's house by the top lock of a flight of ten lock.

Passing a moored narrow boat on our way to the locks
Passing a moored narrow boat on our way to the locks

Nearing the lock keeper's house at the top of the flight of locks
Nearing the lock keeper's house at the top of the flight of locks

The flight of 10 locks seen from the keeper's house
The flight of 10 locks seen from the keeper's house

This arm of the canal runs for about 8km to the Market Harborough Basin. From the lock keeper's house we continued along the path down the hillside past the ten locks to the canal junction at the bottom of the flight of locks.

It's a very impressive sight standing at the top lock and looking down the hillside at the descending line of ten identical locks. These locks are on the Market Harborough arm of the Grand Union Canal.

Nearing the bottom of the locks with the pub  ahead on the right
Nearing the bottom of the locks with the pub ahead on the right

The Grand Union Canal junction at the bottom of Foxton Locks
The Grand Union Canal junction at the bottom of Foxton Locks

The Foxton Locks Inn
The Foxton Locks Inn

Following the path over the bridge
Following the path over the bridge

Looking back to the cottages & cafe at the bottom of the locks
Looking back to the cottages & cafe at the bottom of the locks

We crossed the canal here and once over the canal we turned right to follow the tow path back past the Foxton Locks Inn on the opposite bank for about 100m to a swing bridge across the canal. We crossed this bridge and followed the path up to the Foxton Locks Inn.

As we reached the canal junction there were a few cottages & a pub/cafe on the left and across the lock was the Foxton Locks Inn with picnic tables in the beer garden on the canal side. We followed the tow path past the cottages and cafe for about 70m to a bridge over the Leicester arm of the Grand Union Canal.

The Foxton Locks Inn & beer garden by the canal
The Foxton Locks Inn & beer garden by the canal


Following the tow path along the far side of the canal


Crossing the swing bridge heading for the pub

Looking under a bridge to the short branch of the canal to the loading area for the old inclined plane boat lift
Looking under a bridge to the short branch of the canal to the loading area for the old inclined plane boat lift

Mooring area next to the swing bridge
Mooring area next to the swing bridge

Looking back to the bottom of the locks
Looking back to the bottom of the locks

At the middle lock we kept to the left along the path to the old Boiler House museum. This building was the boiler house used to generate the steam to drive the powerful winches to operate the Incline Plane Boat Lift that replaced the locks from 1900 to 1911.

We continued along an access road past the Inn and turned left to start the climb back up the hillside along the eastern side of the locks. Next to each lock there was a storage pond to ensure that each lock had a supply to water to fill it.

Starting back up the hill by the locks from the pub
Starting back up the hill by the locks from the pub

Passing a storage pond next to the Boiler House
Passing a storage pond next to the Boiler House

The old Boiler House that provided steam power for the inclined plane boat lift - it's now a museum
The old Boiler House that provided steam power for the inclined plane boat lift - it's now a museum

Old narrow boat hull next to the bridge over the disused canal
Old narrow boat hull next to the bridge over the disused canal

The two bays where boats were maneuvered onto the cradles can be seen at the side of the canal below to the left. The roof of the old boiler house can be seen to the right of the viewing platform. The boat cradle delivered the narrow boat into the now disused section of the canal on the hill top behind the boiler house. There's a fascinating explanation of the working of this amazing system on the web site of The Foxton Inclined Plane Trust.

From the museum our route continued to follow the path climbing up the hillside to a footbridge over a disused section of the canal. once across the footbridge we turned left to follow the path beside to disused canal to a viewing area overlooking the inclined plane boat lift. Some of the rails that the boat cradles ran on are still visible.

Looking down the inclined plane of the boat lift. 
	  The two bays at the bottom are where the boats boarded the lift
Looking down the inclined plane of the boat lift. The two bays
at the bottom are where the boats boarded the lift

The remains of the inclined plane boat lift seen from the viewing platform
The remains of the inclined plane boat lift seen from the viewing platform

Returning by the disused section of canal from seeing the boat lift
Returning by the disused section of canal from seeing the boat lift

We followed the tow path under the road and then turned left to continue along the path through the trees beside the road back to the car park and the end of our tour of this amazing place. The whole walk had been almost 3km and there is the opportunity to have a meal on the canal side at the bottom of the locks.

From this viewing platform we returned along the old tow path beside the disused canal for about 400m to the road bridge on Gumley Road over the Market Harborough arm of the canal.

Roots of an enormous water weed in the disused canal
Roots of an enormous water weed in the disused canal

Sculpture of a tow-horse and boy working along the tow path, seen from the tow path by the disused section of canal
Sculpture of a tow-horse and boy working along the tow path, seen from the tow path by the disused section of canal

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